1920s American Society Depicted in 'the Great Gatsby' Essay

1514 WordsNov 19, 20147 Pages
To what extent does “The Great Gatsby” reflect the attitudes and values of real-life American society in the 1920s? ‘The Great Gatsby’ written by F. Scott Fitzgerald is an extremely contextual novel. Many autobiographical elements are incorporated into the story as is Fitzgerald’s own criticism of the era. The fact that the author lived out the hedonistic existence written about in the novel, and experienced the effects of it, including the severe social gap between rich and poor, the rise in organised crime, racism and first wave feminism, gives a unique insight into the attitudes and values of real-life American society in the 1920s. As Arthur Mizener wrote in 1963, “Fitzgerald spoke for his own time and perhaps, in a broader sense, for all generations of Americans”. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald, known for his imagistic and poetic prose, holds a mirror up to the society of which he was a part. In 1925, the novel served as a snapshot of the frenzied post-war society known as the Jazz Age, while today it provides readers with a portal through which to observe life in the 1920s. Part of Fitzgerald's charm in The Great Gatsby is his ability to encapsulate the mood of a generation during a politically and socially crucial and chaotic period of American history. The novel, published in 1925, explores life in the early- to mid-1920s. Politically speaking, this was a time of growth and prosperity, as well as a time of corruption. World War I, the first war of its kind anyone had ever known, had ended in 1919. When Warren G. Harding assumed the presidency in 1920, one of his goals was to bring the country back to business as usual. However, this proved to be a difficult task because Harding's administration was plagued by scandal and corruption, as well as opposition mounted by both unions and organised crime. The Prohibition Act of 1919 provided
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